Saint Roch

Francesco Francia Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 609

This altarpiece by Francesco Francia, the leading artist in Bologna, was painted in 1502 for the church and hospital of Santa Maria della Morte (Holy Mary of Death). It depicts Saint Roch, who died in 1376 or 1377 after being unjustly imprisoned in Montpellier. The bubo on Saint Roch’s thigh shows that he is a plague saint whose powers lie in curing the sick. His mission as both a healer and a patron saint of the falsely accused reflects the hospital’s commitment to caring for prisoners and victims of the Black Death. On the feast day of Saint Roch, members of Santa Maria della Morte honored his memory by releasing a prisoner.

Saint Roch, Francesco Francia (Italian, Bologna ca. 1447–1517 Bologna), Tempera on wood

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